Computer-aided text analysis: an open-aired laboratory for social sciences



Thanks, on the one hand, to the extraordinary availability of colossal textual archives and, on the other hand, to advances in computational possibilities, today the social scientist has at their disposal an extraordinary laboratory, made of millions of interacting subjects and billions of texts. An unprecedented, yet challenging, opportunity for science. How to test, corroborate models? How to control, interpret and validate Big Data? What is the role of theory in the universe of patterns and statistical correlations? In this article, we will show some general characteristics of the use of computational tools for the analysis of texts, and some applications in the areas of public communication of S&T and Science and Technology Studies (STS), also showing some of their limitations and pitfalls.